Taking care of your teeth is essential for preventing oral health issues, including tooth decay and cavities. Cavity prevention involves brushing, flossing, and regular dental cleanings and exams. After a cavity forms, it needs to be treated. Untreated, a cavity only grows larger, causing serious problems. At Palo Alto Oral Health, we can treat your cavities, restoring the health of your mouth with composite dental fillings.
How Cavities Form
A cavity forms as the result of tooth decay. Tooth decay is caused by the erosion of your tooth enamel. Oral bacteria, which live in your mouth, feed on lingering sugars. As they eat, they produce harmful acids, which eat away at the enamel of your teeth. Brushing helps to keep the number of oral bacteria down, and it helps to eliminate the acids on your teeth. Ignoring your oral care routine, or simply missing certain areas of your mouth, gives the acids time to cause the formation of a small pit (cavity) in the enamel. Bacteria take up residence in this pit, and continue their destruction. Over time, the cavity grows larger. Untreated, it can begin to destroy the tooth, weakening it. It can also enter into the inner layer of the tooth, allowing bacteria in. If this happens, a painful infection can form. For these reasons, treating cavities as soon as they are noticed is very important.
Composite Dental Fillings
For many decades, cavities were filled with amalgam. Still used today, amalgam is very strong material. However, it does have some major disadvantages. It is silver in color, which makes it stand out against the rest of the tooth (which can ruin the aesthetics of your smile). It contains both metals and mercury. Many dental patients are uncomfortable with the idea of mercury in their fillings. Amalgam fillings also require drilling more of the tooth’s structure away than just the decay.
Composite dental fillings are different. Composite resin, a mixture of fine glass, plastic, and other materials, is used to fill in the cavity. The material is not as strong as amalgam (although it can stand up to most normal daily wear and tear), but it does blend in beautifully with your enamel, making it ideal for cavities that affect the teeth visible when you smile.
Placing Your Composite Dental Fillings
Composite dental fillings are a straightforward procedure that takes only a single visit to complete. The procedure for placing the filling is fairly similar to placing amalgam fillings. If necessary, a local anesthetic is administered. Next, the decay is drilled away from the tooth. The tooth is cleaned and dried. An acid etch is used to create a rough texture, which helps to ensure a strong bond between the composite material and your tooth. The tooth is cleaned and dried a second time. We fill the cavity with the composite resin material and use a special light to cure, or dry, it. Finally, the material is polished smooth.
Benefits of Composite Dental Fillings
Composite dental fillings have several benefits:
If you suspect you have a cavity, don’t ignore it. Contact Palo Alto Oral Health to schedule your appointment today.